He was able to travel and spent these years visiting parish churches and libraries and spent many hours making transcripts of registers and other documents. He took holy orders at the age of 30 and he did take up some positions, but they're not compatible with his desire for a quiet scholarly life. In 1753 however, the antiquary Browne Willis offered him the living of Bletchley. Willis understood of course that Cole's commitment to his studies ranked above his commitment to parish life, and with that understanding the two men came to an accord. Cole stayed in Bletchley for 14 years, resigning the living in 1767 in favour of Willis's grandson. Immediately he went to a living at Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire, but after a falling out with hs patron moved to Milton, just outside Cambridge in 1770. In 1774 Eton College presented him with the vicarage at Burnham in South Buckinghamshire, although he never actually moved away from his home at Milton. He died on 16 December 1782.
Cole displayed no interest in women and never married.
His Bletchley years from 1753 to 1767 are the ones that interest us. There he came into regular contact with Browne Willis and had access to his papers. Indeed he substantially revised and brought to a coherent form Willis's History of the Newport and Cottesloe Hundreds. Curiously Cole was opposed to publication of his works, something he could have afforded had he been so inclined. He was of the opinion that his contribution lay in the collection of the information and that others could make use it in the future - as indeed they have. Coles manuscripts are to be found in the British Library
|Extract from Cole's notes on Wolverton|